National Council of Churches Statements on Climate Change, Environmental and Creation Justice, and Standing Rock

Resolution on Global Warming

2006 General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA
Presented by the Eco-Justice Working Group, approved by the Justice and Advocacy Commission and the NCC Governing Board

POLICY BASE:

“Christian Concern and Responsibility for Economic Life in a Rapidly Changing Technological Society,” adopted by the General Board of the National Council of Churches USA Governing Board, February 24, 1966

“The Ethical Implications of Energy Production and Use,” adopted by the National Council of Churches USA Governing Board, May 11, 1979

RATIONALE:

Prominent scientists and major, respected scientific bodies are in agreement that the Earth is warming because of human-induced carbon emissions. Global warming threatens the very fabric of God’s creation and will hit those who are least able to adapt – both human and nonhuman – the hardest. Because the Christian community is called to justice, to be good “neighbors” with our brothers and sisters across the globe, and to steward God’s creation, addressing global warming is a moral imperative and a Christian call.

RESOLUTION:

The National Council of Churches has stated:

The rapidly expanding dimensions of (human) “dominion” over the earth and its physical resources call for new and deeper commitment to the Christian doctrine of stewardship … Natural resources, human techniques and institutions all together constitute an interlocking and interacting system of amazing complexity, precision and balance. [1]

An ecologically just society will be guided by the values of sustainability, fairness, and participation. Sustain ability refers to the earth’s limited capacity to provide resources and to absorb the pollution resulting from their use. Sustainability requires that biological and social systems which nurture and support life not be depleted or poisoned. Fairness refers to…an equitable distribution of the total benefits, and costs. [2]

Whereas the impacts of global warming, as currently predicted and understood by leading scientists and scientific bodies around the world including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will dramatically and negatively alter God’s gracious gift of creation and

Whereas the predicted impacts of global warming will have a disproportionate impact on those living in poverty and hunger, the elderly and infants, and those least responsible for the emissions of green house gases.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN CHRIST:

  1. Expresses its deep concern for the pending environmental, economic, and social tragedies threatened by global warming to creation, human communities, and traditional sacred spaces
  2. Urges the Federal Government to respond to global warming with greater urgency and leadership and gives support for mandatory measures that reduce the absolute amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and in particular emissions of carbon dioxide, to levels recommended by nationally and internationally recognized and respected scientific bodies.
  3. Urges the Federal, State and Local Governments to support and invest in energy conservation and efficiency, sustainable and renewable, and affordable and sustainable transportation
  4. Calls for business and industry to respond to global warming with increased investment in conservation and more efficient and sustainable energy technologies that are accessible, sustainable, and democratic.
  5. Stands firmly with all of God’s children by urging that adaptive measures and financial support be forthcoming from government and industry to aid those directly impacted by global warming and in particular those least able to relocate, reconstruct, or cope with the current and pending impacts of climate change
  6. Calls on all Christians, people of faith and people of good will the world over to lead by example and seek active means whereby they may, individually and in community, quickly reduce their emissions of green house gas emissions and speak out for engagement by their elected officials on matters of global warming.

Resolution on Environmental Health

Policy Base:

Christian Concern for an Economic Life in a Rapidly Changing Technological Society, Adopted by the General Board of the National Council of Churches USA Governing Board, February 26, 1966.

Toxic Pollution in the U.S.A.: With Special Concern for Its Impact on Poor and Minority Communities, Adopted by the National Council of Churches USA Governing Board, November 6, 1986.

Church and Children: Vision and Goals for the 21st Century, 2004.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Policy on Human Biotechnologies, Adopted by the National Council of Churches Governing Board, November 8, 2006 in Orlando, Florida.

Rationale:

Whereas we recognize that we were “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and that our faith tradition calls us to care for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 6: 19-20). We are also called to treat our children as sacred (Matthew 18:2-4) and to provide for future generations. Sadly, studies have found that children carry a disproportionate toxic burden. Research indicates that newborns in the United States have an average of 200 toxic chemicals in their umbilical cord blood.1

Whereas asthma, cardiovascular disease,2 obesity,3 early childhood puberty, infertility, and cancer are linked to exposure to chemicals in products commonly found in households, and church buildings, and other related facilities. The Center for Disease Control found that more than 92 percent of Americans have bisphenol-a (a coating on polycarbonate plastics and food cans) in their blood, a chemical linked at low doses to cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, early puberty in girls,4 and cardiovascular disease.5 Additionally, studies have also detected 16 chemicals from cosmetics products in children and youth that are linked with health problems including cancer and hormone disruption.6 Other studies have found a high presence of persistent, bioaccumulative chemicals, such as brominated flame retardants (which are linked to thyroid cancer, developmental delays, and hearing loss) in adults, children, newborns,7 breast milk,8 and Creation.9 Diseases, learning and developmental disabilities, respiratory illnesses, and reproductive challenges have been linked with such chemicals as dioxins,10 mercury,11 lead,12 perflorochemicals,13 formaldehyde,14 and chemicals in cleaning products.

Whereas we are called to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:45). The United Church of Christ’s Race and Toxic Waste reports of 198715 and 200716 found that race, more than class determines the location and siting of toxic waste sites. Some cosmetics products marketed specifically to people of color contain particularly toxic chemicals.17 Additionally, lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables exposes low-income communities to toxic chemicals in aluminum cans and pesticides, which have been linked to hormone disruption.18 Low-income persons, minorities, and non-English speaking residents are less likely to have the knowledge or resources to buy more-expensive and less-toxic alternatives to household items currently in use. Because these same populations are also less likely to have knowledge of and access to adequate preventive and responsive health care in the face of these exposures, these vulnerable populations, and especially their children, are doubly burdened by the impacts of toxic exposures.

Whereas the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 was passed to create a framework to regulate our nation’s chemicals, and yet in the last thirty years the Environmental Protection Agency has used its authority to test only 200 chemicals and only 5 have been banned out of the 82,000 chemicals currently registered for use.19

Whereas the Food and Drug Administration has little authority and few resources to regulate chemicals in cosmetics; and companies are not required to reveal chemicals used in manufacturing, especially in fragrance, despite the fact that chemicals in fragrance have been linked to cancer, reproductive challenges, and early childhood puberty in girls.

Therefore be it resolved that

The National Council of Churches will promote educational materials and practical solutions for church bodies to promote healthy, less-toxic spaces for worship and sacred living.

The National Council of Churches will work to protect the most vulnerable members of society from exposure to harmful chemicals-pregnant women, children, communities of color, low-income communities, older adults and others with compromised immune systems, and people exposed to these chemicals in the workplace.

The National Council of Churches will work to protect Creation from toxic chemical exposure by engaging congregants in healthy lifestyle choices and public witness on behalf of Creation.

The National Council of Churches will share a prophetic witness to empower legislators and federal agencies to ban toxic chemicals of concern, repair the system we use to regulate chemicals, and ensure that the products we use are safe for all. We also encourage industry, government, faith bodies, and environmental health advocates to work together to create policies that promote a green, toxic ­free economy. Through these efforts we can ensure a healthier future for the whole body of Christ.

Adopted by the Eco-Justice Working Group, March 31, 2009

1 Environmental Working Group. Body Burden: A Benchmark Investigation of Industrial Chemicals, Pollutants, and Pesticides in Human Umbillical Cord Blood., 2004.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/statistics.htm.10/24/08.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/index.htm.10/24/08.

4 vom Saal, FS, et al. 2007. “Chapel Hill Bisphenol A Expert Panel Consensus Statement: Integration of mechanisms, effects in animals and potential impact to human health at current exposure levels.” Reproductive Toxicology 24:131-138.

5 Calafat, Antonia M. , et al. Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. “Exposure of the U.S. Population to Bisphenol A and 4-tertiary-Octylphenol: 2003–2004,” . Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 116, Number 1, January 2008.

6 Sutton, Rebecca. Adolescent Exposures to Cosmetic Chemicals of Concern. Environmental Working Group. Washington, DC. September 2008.

7 Lunder, Sonya, Anila Jacob. Fire Retardants in Toddlers and Their Mothers. Environmental Working Group. September 2008.

8 She, J., et al. PBDEs in the San Francisco Bay Area: Measurements in Harbor Seal Blubber and Human Breast Adipose Tissue. Chemosphere 46(5):697-707 (2002).

9 California Environmental Protection Agency Department of Toxic Substances Control. PBDE Levels in Falcon Egg Studies Highest Ever., May 2008.

10 Eskenazi, Brenda, et al. “Serum Dioxin Concentrations and Risk of Uterine Leiomyoma in the Seveso Women’s Health Study.”, American Journal of Epidemiology. 2007 166(1):79-87

11 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts46.html. April 1999.

12 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Environmental Health. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/faq/about.htm. October 2008.

13 “PFCs: Global Contaminants.” Environmental Working Group. April 2003.

14 Taskinen, Helena, et al. Reduced fertility among female wood workers exposed to formaldehyde. Am J Ind Med. 1999 Jul; 36(1):206-12.

15 Lee, Charles. Toxic Waste and Race in the United States: A National Report on the Racial and Socio-Economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites. New York, NY: Commission for Racial Justice, the United Church of Christ, 1987.

16 Bullard, Robert, et al. Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty (1987-2007). Columbus, OH: United Church of Christ, 2007.

17 Maxwell, NI. Newton, MA: Silent Spring Institute, 2000 – library.silentspring.org

18 Farr, Sherry L. “Pesticide Exposure and Timing of Menopause.” American Journal of Epidemiology. 2006 163(8):731 742. Wozniak , Amy L., Nataliya N. Bulayeva, and Cheryl S. Watson. “Xenoestrogens at Picomolar to Nanomolar Concentrations Trigger Membrane Estrogen Receptor- -Mediated Ca2+ Fluxes and Prolactin Release in GH3/B6 Pituitary Tumor Cells.” Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 113, Number 4, April 2005.

19 Government Accountability Office. Chemical Regulation: Options Exist to Improve EPA’s Ability to Assess Health Risks and Manage Its Chemical Review Program. 2005. 22.

Resolution on the Responsibility to Protect  – Adopted by the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches USA 
September 24, 2007

On September 16, 2005, in the General Assembly of the United Nations, the United States and all other member states adopted the World Summit Outcome declaration that included the responsibility to protect (see appended text). On April 28, 2006, this commitment was reaffirmed by the UN Security Council.

The principle underlying this commitment affirms the responsibility of each individual state to protect its peoples from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. It also asserts that, should individual slates not prevent such atrocity crimes within their borders, the international community has the obligation to intervene in order to protect that state’s peoples.

The Christian community has always affirmed that, in response to the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9), we are indeed the protectors of one another. This affirmation is grounded in the prophetic call to protect the other -the strangers, the weak and the dispossessed. It was further exemplified by Jesus, who took the call for the well-being of all to the level of the nations, whose people he said would be judged by whether or not they led the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, took care of the sick, and visited the prisoners (Matthew 25;31-46).

The Christian community also believes that God hears the cry of the oppressed, and indeed the cry of the very blood that is spilled through injustice (Genesis 4:10) It is therefore a person’s responsibility individually to protect the other. The responsibility to protect as outlined by the United Nations correlates as to our responsibility collectively as nations. As Christians, we urge our nation to take up this responsibility in our name.

Whereas:

The nations of the world committed themselves to the principle of the responsibility to protect ill September 2005, and thus affirmed the related principle that the peace and security of people arc not trumped by claims of national sovereignty;

The first test of this commitment is in ending the genocide in Darfur, for which the National Council of Churches USA has worked diligently to this day as a matter of conscience, through among other things advocacy efforts directed toward the US and the international community (Resolution On the Continuing Crisis in Sudan, May 18, 2004);

The National Council of Churches USA invoked the responsibility to protect in calling for US actions to urge the Philippine Government to bring an end to the extrajudicial killings that are plaguing that country (Resolution on Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, February 26, 2007);

The National Council of Churches USA recognizes the importance of consulting and working with our partner organizations and member communions’ partner denominations in countries where the situation appears to warrant the application or the principle of the responsibility to protect;

The National Council of Churches USA affirms the identification of the responsibility to protect as a moral issue as stated by the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, who were among the earliest supporters of this principle; and,

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Coalition has called on the people of the US and its leaders to embrace norm of the responsibility to protect as a foreign policy priority;

Therefore:

The National Council of Churches USA endorses the Responsibility to Protect and, recognizing that war is always a failure to find peaceful resolution to conflict, encourages the US Government and the international community always to first seek non-violent means of intervention, and exhaust all opportunities for peaceful resolution, as a means of protecting those threatened by genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity;

The National Council of Churches USA calls upon the US Government to effectively implement the obligations of the R2P, in ways that reflect the international consensus on the criteria for action, and to take leadership within the international community to meet these obligations;

The National Council of Churches USA calls upon the US Government to work with the international community in ensuring that their common commitment to the responsibility to protect is met, especially through the strengthening of early warning capabilities so that such atrocity crimes might be prevented in the future;

The National Council of Churches USA calls upon its member churches to affirm the principle of the responsibility to protect, to support efforts that lead to the implementation of the international commitment to this principle, to join together with other Americans in efforts, such as those of the R2P Coalition, to promote a US government commitment to uphold the responsibility to protect both domestically and globally, and to educate our collective constituencies on the religious and moral imperatives inherent in this principle.

Policy Base:

“Pillars of Peace for the 21st Century,” November II, 1999.

“The United Nations and World Community,” May 4, 1977.

“Imperatives of Peace and Responsibilities of Power,” February 21, 1968.

“Toward a Family of Nations Under God – Agenda of Action for Peace,” June 2, 1960.

Appended Text:

Excerpt from UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/1

“Each and individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise t his responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to lake collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapler VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation wit h relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out” (para. 138 and 139).

NCC and Creation Justice Ministries applaud developments at Standing Rock

The National Council of Churches of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and Creation Justice Ministries join in expressing their deep appreciation to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers for the historic decision to not grant an easement for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) through the contested site in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

As previously planned, the DAPL would have transversed sovereign Sioux land considered by the Sioux to be sacred, and has already damaged tribal burial grounds. DAPL would have been placed underneath the Missouri River, potentially polluting drinking water and endangering the health of millions downstream.

Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director Shantha Ready Alonso said of the decision, “We are grateful to the Administration for this decision. The belief system that a company can take over indigenous land for profit can be traced back to the Doctrine of Discovery — 15th century papal teachings which have historically been used to justify land theft, colonization, and genocide. Standing with the Standing Rock Sioux to defend their sacred land has been an important step by Christians to reject the Doctrine of Discovery and to rectify injustice. As Christians, we have a moral responsibility to stand with indigenous peoples to protect their sovereignty, and God’s creation.”

Creation Justice Ministries and the National Council of Churches celebrate the ways in which faith leaders have stood alongside the Water Protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux in this struggle. Member communions of NCC and Creation Justice Ministries have sent delegations to stand in solidarity with the Sioux as they have strongly opposed the pipeline which would have run across their sacred lands. The organizations’ leaders hope this will be seen as a turning point in the troubled relationship Native Americans and Christians have often shared throughout history, that Christians will stand on the side of justice.

“This is an incredible development,” said NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler. “I believe the churches that stood with the Sioux made a difference.  I’m deeply grateful for NCC member communions who saw Standing Rock as a place to stand for justice. Obviously, we hope this decision will not be reversed in the coming administration.”

We join in celebrating this moment in which the words and actions of protest have been heard by our governmental leaders.  We pray that additional strides toward justice and care for the environment will be spurred by the events of the past months at Standing Rock.

Creation Justice Ministries represents the creation care policies of 38 Christian communions, including Baptists, mainline Protestants, Historically Black Churches, Peace Churches, and Orthodox communions. Learn more at creationjustice.org

A Christian Response to the 400th Anniversary Commemoration of the Founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607

National Council of Churches Interfaith Relations Commission meeting in Montreal, Quebec, receives with gratitude an overture from the Virginia Council of Churches on the commemoration of the 400′” anniversary of the settling of Jamestown in 2007. The events of 1607 inaugurated the shared history of 400 years, weaving together diverse peoples and cultures. This commemoration is an occasion to appreciate the past, but it also offers an opportunity for repentance” reconciliation and healing.

For some of us who are Native American this event begins a long history of invasion; genocide, exploitation, and the denigration and loss of native land and religious traditions. For others of us who are African American this event marks the port of entry of slavery and forced migration. Yet, in Spill’ of this painful history, we are grateful to God that we have survived and thrived in this land.

This event also marked the beginning of the permanent presence of Protestantism in North America. The church too has thrived in this land. However we recognize and confess that many churches bad much to do with the structures that supported racism.

The 2007 Commemoration of the founding of Jamestown provides a kairos opportunity for Christian churches to focus upon their solidarity with indigenous peoples and reaffirm our commitment to combat racism.

Expecting that the familiar traditional accounts of European settlement will dominate the celebration the Governing Board of the NCCCUSA encourages the community of Christian communions in the USA, to:

1. Be involved in activities that bring forward those parts of the history of the ‘event that have often been forgotten or omitted.

2. Continue to stand against racism in all its forms

3. Prepare and distribute resources that reveal the complexities and complicities of missionary efforts that resulted in the destruction of cultures and religions, tile desecration of religious sites, and other actions that created a culture intolerant to the spirituality of indigenous all enslaved peoples.

4. Since we are living at a time of unprecedented cultural and religious diversity in this land, review and reflect on the degree to which current missiologies tend to promote lifestyles that perpetuate the exploitation of people, and that stand in the way of enabling their self· determination.

Plan and Timeline for a Protocol on the Mobilization to Overcome Poverty to Present to the General Assembly, Adopted by the National Council of Churches Executive Board
October 3, 2000

BE IT RESOLVED by the Executive Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCC) as follows:

1. That the member communions of the NCCC be called upon to commit themselves to active participation in a significant program initiative to develop a mobilization to overcome poverty.

2. The Executive Board affirms its May actions to assign responsibility for developing goals and a working plan for a ten year ecumenical mobilization to overcome poverty to a task group made up of members of the following working groups and entities within the NCC: Economic Justice/Hunger Concerns; Justice for Women; Racial Justice; Ministries in Christian Education; Justice for Children and their Families; The NCCC Washington; Ecumenical Networks; Other interested groups within the NCC such as Faith and Order, Inclusiveness and Justice; Staff as assigned by the General Secretary.

3. Each group will appoint up to three persons to collaborate in the further development of a working plan to be presented to the Executive Board in February 2001. This group will be convened by NCC staff with the leadership of the General Secretary.

4. Reaffirms that this NCC group will work collegially in conjunction with other Christian churches, especially Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Roman Catholics as this initiative finds connection with the initiative to expand the ecumenical vision.

5. Reaffirms that the project will collaborate with the Washington Inter-religious Staff Community, ecumenical agencies at all levels, and with partner organizations such as the Coalition on Human Needs, the Welfare Information Network, Bread for the World, Call to Renewal, and Children’s Defense Fund.

6. In addition to resources from the participating groups, revised drafts of a protocol will be brought forward in light of Executive Board discussions. Documents that have been part of the Executive Board conversation and notes gathered in the dialogues at the October Executive Board and November 2000 General Assembly, will be referred to this task group to inform the development of the mobilization to overcome poverty.

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 38 member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

Resolution For Renewed Faith Community Universal Health Care Campaign 

[This Resolution has been reviewed by the National Ministries Unit Executive Board (Oct. 6, 1999) and reported to the General Assembly and was passed unanimously on Nov. 11, 1999]

I. Sacred Tradition and Commitment

The member communions of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA have for centuries been concerned with and deeply experienced in healing and health ministries including innumerable and diverse health care services ranging from major hospitals to clinics in poor neighborhoods to congregation-based health care programs. Our biblical understanding of righteousness is defined by right and just relations among men and women, requiring that we do justice and love mercy in order to keep faithful covenant with God and with one another.

The NCCC, since its founding 50 years ago, has been on record as committed, with its member communions, to universal health care as a sacred tradition, a biblical teaching, and a human right; clearly derived, as well, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 50 years ago as NCCC was being founded. The NCCC, together with its member communions, across the decade of the 90’s has been on record as committed to national public policy for universal health care with clearly stated principles including unified financing, comprehensiveness, quality, affordability, and community and personal accountability; to direct support of the Interreligious Health Care Access Campaign; and support of health ministries to actualize commitment and mission for healing community.

II. Urgent Health System Changes Social Impacts

The current availability of health care to all people in the Unites States has been drastically reduced by changes in the private sector organization, financing and delivery of health care and in state and federal health financing policies. The direct result of these changes is that more than 43 million Americans have no health care insurance coverage. Perhaps more than a hundred million people experience serious barriers to access and a working majority of Americans probably now feel vulnerably underinsured.

This poses a grave threat to the people who most need access to health care and who are most at-risk, underserved or ill-served, women and children in poverty and working families; also reflecting glaring disparities of health status and health care access according to racial-ethnic minority and socio-economic status. That make this a central issue of civil rights. Threatened is essential, skilled coverage by front line health care workers, most pointedly nurses; most health workers being women, who also carry the major burden of informal family care; as well as a disproportionate number of good jobs for racial-ethnic minorities. That makes this a multiply vital issue of justice for women. It drastically affects the aging and disabled and immigrant/refugee populations.

This poses, as well, a threat to the financial stability of major health care providers and academic medical centers, including historically religious-sponsored, not-for-profit health care institutions and programs and their community missions, as well as vital social safety net hospitals and community health centers. Now that South Africa has a national health system for all, the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without a policy of universal health care coverage.

Efforts in the 1990s to rectify the problem posed by rising costs and inequities of coverage by making health care access universal, including with the Interreligious Health Care Access Campaign, were rejected by Congress, fueled by an unprecedented level of media, lobbying and political contributions campaigning. In the aftermath of this rejection, the successor Congress has enacted federal funding cut Medicaid, including the impacts of welfare and immigration reform, has cut back and sought to privatize and “individualize” Medicare. Also in the aftermath we have seen the expansion of managed care systems and the increase of private, for-profit Health Maintenance Organizations and investor-owned health care systems, including vast takeovers of formerly non-profit community institutions and plans. This is amidst a generally acknowledged collapsing of the increasingly market-driven, for-profit, privatized health care system, affecting most Americans.

III. Faith Community Issue Groundwork, Signs Renewed Social Movement

While support for the comprehensive universal health care issue after the early 90’s defeat appeared to be off the political agenda, there have been in the last year or so signs of revival of the issue. This includes Year 2000 campaigns issue polling results; national and state-level mobilization around Medicare, managed care bill of rights, and expanding coverage and enrollment for children and working families, including by faith community advocates; as well as newly declared universal health care policy and campaign statements from majority mainstream providers groups, including religious-based. This includes explorations about the opportunities for the potentially watershed Year 2000 elections, especially Congressional, but includes Presidential succession with an early bi-partisan emphasis on the importance of the local faith community as community agents of holistic mission and a growing recognition that health care is a major issue.

The National Ministries Unit of the NCCC, in cooperation with other senior executives and the member communions of the NCCC and the Interreligious Health Care Working Group in Washington, D.C., including staff from many NCCC member communions, has conducted a four year program of civic conversation about health care, convened national consultations with communion health care providers, communion health care insurers, and communion member health care professionals and educators. This also has included major discussions of the issues involved with interreligious partners ranging from neighborhood town meetings to conferences at the United Nations, including a National Interfaith Health Care Gathering at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee in May 1998. The Memphis meeting engaged national leadership as well as grounding with local and state leadership, including local congregation-based health missions and ministries.

Several consultations during Spring, Summer and early Fall 1999 by the National Ministries Unit of the NCCC and other senior executive leadership, working in cooperation with the Interreligious Health Care Working Group, were held further to define the issues and barriers to universal health care coverage. The senior executive leadership of the NCCC, including National Ministries, Ecumenical Networks, Church World Service, and the Washington Office, along with member denominations and associated ecumenical organizations, has met with secular representatives to explore strategies for advocating universal health care access.

This has been explored as part of a popular campaign development that ties together in local activities diverse groups who support the general concept of quality health care for all with democratic principles. This includes explicit support of faith community-based constituencies with education and mobilization at the local congregation and community level and direct engagement of traditional interest group opponents of universal care.

A Resolution For Renewed Faith Community
Universal Health Care Campaign

Therefore, Be It Resolved:

The General Board/Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA:

1. Acknowledges that at least 43 million people in the U.S. have no access to health care and that many millions more are underserved or underinsured, a working majority of Americans at risk; and

2. “Has always upheld the rights of all people to adequate health care, with special emphasis on preventive health care and comprehensive services” [Resolution 1991 support of Interreligious Health Care Access Campaign]; and:

3. Endorsed Health Concerns Policy Statement [adopted in 1971, reaffirmed in 1989], including the statement: “The development of a national health system which will assure quality health care as a right to all persons in an accessible, effective and efficient manner”: and

4. Endorsed [Resolution in 1991 for support of the Interreligious Health Care Access Campaign] an interreligious “program to advocate for enactment at the federal level of universal access to comprehensive health care services for all people living in the United States.”

5. Now commends to its member communions a renewed faith community action campaign for comprehensive universal health care with democratic principles to which we have been historically committed; a campaign consisting of public education and action focused at the congregation and community level in cooperation with a larger coalition seeking to put this issue back on the national agenda.

6. Now therefore supports a national campaign beginning during the Year 2000 elections in which coalitions at the local level, including encouragement of the widest direct participation of NCC member communions congregations, call upon candidates, particularly in federal elections, commitment to support Congress enacting universal health care coverage.

Policy Base: “Health Care Concerns,” Policy Statement adopted by July General Board, Sept. 10, 1971, (reaffirmed by the General Board, May 19, 1989) and Resolution: “Interreligious Health Care Access Campaign”, adopted Nov. 14, 1991.

Greenfaith’s section on biblical references for eco-themed worship

Earth Ministry/Washington IPL’s section on scripture

The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota website includes  lectionary readings, commentaries, and environmental reflections

CreationCare.org, sponsored by the Evangelical Environmental Network, includes educational materials, advocacy resources, and Scripture

You may also wish to refer to The Green Bible, which highlights in green the biblical texts that focus on creation and how the divine relates to it. The Green Bible uses the New Revised Standard Version and also includes essays, study suggestions, and other resources.

Check our Sermons section for text references. Each sermon listing includes the texts used.

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